Five years after “It’s All True” you are back with your new Junior Boys-album “Big Black Coat” … Did you know that this would happen?
No, we didn’t have any real plan at the end of the last album, but I think we both needed some time to do some other stuff.
Jeremy, you said that doing your solo stuff brought you back to Junior Boys with the spirit of the beginning, with a different perspective. Could you describe this development, this experience a little bit more explicitly? When and how did you realize that exactly?
I think that doing the solo stuff was important because it got me back into doing dance music explicitly, which allowed me to make music without worrying about songwriting. That helped influence the album, because the actual writing of the album was much less about songwriting and more about building loops and moods than our last albums have been. But more than the solo stuff I think that doing the work with Jessy Lanza had the most profound influence on the new record. She got me thinking about production in different ways that brought a freshness to everything I did.
How did that impact the method of production of your new album which you wanted to be completely non-conceptional?
It was just done quickly, without preconceived notions about what it should be, other than focusing on not repeating ourselves and being creative.
You told us: “The fact that we haven’t put out an album in a long time has been liberating, in that we haven’t been so phenomenally successful that everyone knows who we are. With this album, a lot of people will be hearing us for the first time. There’s a freedom that comes from that.” What about the expectations of people who already know you …? How do you get along with others’ expectations now?
I tend to care less and less. That is to say, I am very happy when people like the stuff, but don’t think much about it. I live in a sort of isolated city in many ways. I don’t have much sense of how my music is perceived, and I do things to minimize my exposure to those opinions by not reading many reviews or searching it out on Google etc.
What do you expect from yourself regarding your creative output?
I expect myself to become a better producer with time. I try to make sure that the only limitations that I have are self imposed.
Which qualities do you like in Matt?
As a human being or as a producer? As a producer i think he is a particularly great drum programmer and is great at creating atmosphere in tracks. As a human being, he is a great cook and nice guy.
You said about your common home city: “I love Hamilton – it’s a great city – but if you live there, you are going to encounter something thoroughly depressing every single time you walk. So, the level of sadness around you is inspiring, but in a weird way.” Your daily life takes place there, you are a part of that city … do you also feel like a part of that sadness – or how do you avoid to get depressed by that atmosphere?
I think you have to get off on a certain grittiness. It has to appeal to you to live in a place like this. Also you have to like the sense of cultural isolation. Not that people in Hamilton aren’t creative, but they don’t particularly care about trends in art and culture the same way people in a big city might.
Which city apart from Hamilton is such a place of “deep, human sadness” from your point of view?
Hahaha, I’m not giving such a great picture of my city. I think all rust-belt cities are similar in a way. I feel a huge amount of affinity for mid sized cold cities. There is a film by Guy Maddin called “My Winnipeg”. I love that movie, I think it could’ve been called “My Hamilton” or ‘My Buffalo” or ‘My Detroit’ or ‘My Cleveland’. All these mid sized cities have a similar feel to them.
Speaking of sadness … Lately David Bowie died …
Although I don’t listen to a huge amount of Bowie, I am hugely influenced by people who were heavily influenced by him. Bands like YMO, Japan, Ultravox etc could not have existed without Bowie (and Roxy Music).
What are you looking forward to on your tour particularly? You will also come to Germany soon …
I’m looking forward to getting warm in California. Germany will be good, I love German food (not kidding).
Your coat which the album is named after is actually grey … Will you take it on tour with you?
“Big Black Coat” pays homage to Hamilton – specifically to the city in winter … but the album seems to deal with love as well …?
It’s about people who are dealing with their complex emotional lives, but don’t have the words. Love that turns into resentment that turns into sadness etc.
You said that the percussion sound in the title track “Big Black Coat” sounded in your ears like the swishing of fabric … Which everyday sounds do you like?
Hmm. I love lots of everyday sounds. I’m always talking about winter, but I love summer sounds more. Crickets, cicadas, trees in the wind … all that happy shit.
How do you experience winter? Has it changed in the course of time?
I’m enjoying this winter a lot. I think that if I make some money this year, I’d like to buy a wood burning stove. I think that would make the winters a lot better. Fire is therapeutic …
What is keeping you warm when it’s cold?
My friends, family and cats
What is your favourite fabric? For a coat in particular?
I wouldn’t know one fabric from another.
Thank you for the interview. / Csilla Letay
Photo: Tom Weatherill